The Ultimate Guide to Your First Scuba Diving Liveaboard Experience

We went on three liveaboards in three months and wow, do we have some top tips for you if you’re considering your first liveaboard experience!

If you are new to the world of liveaboard diving, be prepared to never want to dive any other way again. If you thought diving was addictive, liveaboard diving will have you upgrading your experience from here on out.

We write these posts for the scuba diving beginners to the pros in the industry, so skip ahead by clicking the links if you want to get past the basics, but we’re covering the following:

What is a scuba diving liveaboard experience?

Why it is worth taking a liveaboard trip over doing multiple day trips

What to expect from a liveaboard trip

How to plan for a liveaboard trip

Who you should speak to book the trip

What you can bring and how you can prepare to make the most of the experience

Links to our individual liveaboard trip blogs, so you can see how we got on over three different experiences in one location.

What is a liveaboard experience?

Typically, if you enjoying scuba diving, your holidays are frequently based in diving destinations – because what else would you want to do with your time off? Looking for the right dive shop, ensuring there’s availability to get to the sites you’ve read all about, researching the local facilities, restaurants and bars in-depth and booking the room with the view, all come as part of this planning.

A scuba diving liveaboard experience includes all of the above. Having set sail from shore you then live on the ship floating (hopefully) on the ocean. Diving from morning till night, playing cards at sunset, sitting under the stars with a drink and rising with the sun. In layman’s terms: dive, eat, sleep, repeat.

Liveaboards host a number of guests, which could range from just you to up to around twenty others; not forgetting the crew of course. They set sail for four to seven days, in some areas you can do expeditions for up to fourteen or more days.

Why is it worth it and what should you expect?

Nothing quite beats the feeling of getting up from a dive, removing your gear and settling down with a good book in a hammock whilst an array of wonderful food is laid out for your pleasure. After food, you settle down to a small cat nap in the shade to get you back on track and after a couple of hours of surface interval you’re feeling refreshed and ready to dive again! This happens four times during the day on a liveaboard trip.

If you think four dives a day sounds too much, think again – being surrounded by the big blue ocean and fresh air there’s little more you’ll need to get your happy bubbles blowing.

Longer surface intervals make for longer bottom times, so relax and release that nitrogen, feel fresher and if you’re looking to do multiple deep dives you’ve given yourself the potential for a longer NDL than on a day trip.

Did we mention all the food? Diving uses up a lot of energy and it seems that it’s a keen hobby of the chefs on board these trips to keep you full to the brim! Like Hobbits you’ll have a first and second breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner, drinks and treats are in full supply too.

The company can’t be bad, you’re surrounded by co-divers who have also found themselves on the same diving liveaboard – there’s a few talking points to get the conversation flowing, perhaps you both read this blog – add that to a pack of cards and you’ve got divers paradise.

The diving. Well, come on – this seems too obvious to put first. In truth, all of the above affect this element, there’s no need to hang around in a dive shop in the morning, no potentially awkward commute to the sites with different people daily, no limitation on the dive sites due to changes in circumstance and the surface interval spent in between dives on a liveaboard swiftly feels like settling down at home.

Not to mention, your home comes with a room with a view, well – of course this does depend on where you go in the world, but it’s guaranteed not to be another building block! Lounging around on the ship you’ll have that sweet horizon in your site all day, especially beautiful in the dawn, dusk and dead of night. Birds swooping past, stars at night and splashes from the ocean activity will have you feeling utterly peaceful.

When you should book your trip

Of course, booking in advance ensures the trip isn’t going to be spoiled by getting the small cabin or the trip booking out. If you have the luxury of flexibility with your dates when you arrive you can find some last minute deals, this isn’t usually the case in high season but if you arrive near the end of the season there could be a potential for a decent discount – but it could be a risky game to play, especially if you’re feeling particular about the type of experience you’re after.

Many liveaboard operations don’t have offices, which would mean booking online is the only option, these companies will often arrange a meeting point for the departure in a location close to the harbour. There are also plenty of online liveaboard booking sites which offer competitive and secure booking. Be sure to check reviews of the company you’re going with, the authenticity of the site you’re using, the transparency of costs and ease of organisation before clicking that final payment button.

What you can bring and how you can prepare to make the most of the experience

What about this being your entrance to the advanced diving world? You could take your advanced course on the trip, or perhaps you haven’t dived in a little while and might consider doing your refresher course in advance, getting your gear serviced and insurance updated – there’s always ways you can be more prepared to allow for maximum enjoyment on the trip and reduce any potential stress or difficulties.

Don’t forget to bring your your divers qualification certificate or card, insurance details and log book. Any equipment – remember that new masks need a little wearing in (toothpaste, burning or serious anti-fog) for the first few uses, but that they’re the most likely thing to not fit or cause you aggravation when renting them, so investing in one is a great idea if you’re looking to start gathering your own gear.

Your own scuba gear that hasn’t been used recently, within the last couple of months should be tested – you can bring it to your local dive school and rent a tank to test it in the pool. Any scuba gar that hasn’t been used for an extended period of time, even if it was new when you used it last, should really be serviced to double check it’s all fully functioning.

We went on three liveaboards in three months and wow, do we have some top tips for you if you’re looking for your next and best liveaboard destination… Bear in mind that, like everything, there are levels of luxury you can pay for on these experiences and even among the luxury and budget liveaboards there are some that are better than others – don’t buy into the label straight away, check the reviews first!

Check out our individual reviews in each here:

Jaya, Scuba Republic

Ikan Biru, Blue Marlin

Wicked Diving, Wicked Adventures

Check out the promo-video we made for Wicked Adventures during our trip:

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